Real Madrid keep Haaland quiet but De Bruyne steps up in Champions League semi
Real Madrid and Manchester City have drawn 1-1 in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final after long-range strikes by Vinícius Junior and Kevin de Bruyne.
Vinicius put Madrid ahead with a shot into the top corner in the first half and Belgian superstar De Bruyne equalised for the visitors with a powerful first-time shot after the interval.
The second leg will be played next week at Etihad Stadium in Manchester. The first leg of the other semi between Italian rivals Inter Milan and AC Milan is on Wednesday.
Madrid beat City in last year’s semi-finals and went on to win a record-extending 14th Champions League title while the English club again fell short of European success.
City controlled possession but couldn’t translate it into significant scoring opportunities. Erling Haaland wasted a few chances early on Tuesday night but wasn’t much of a threat throughout the game at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium .He finished with just 21 touches, the fewest on the pitch.
The Norwegian came into the match having scored 12 of City’s 26 goals in the Champions League this season and was five short of Cristiano Ronaldo’s single-season record of 17 for Madrid in 2013-14.
Vinicius created problems for the City defence and opened the scoring in the 36th minute with his seventh Champions League goal this season. The Brazil forward picked up a pass by Eduardo Camavinga and used one touch to set up his right-footed shot from outside the area.
City struggled to get close to Madrid’s goal but De Bruyne found the net in the 67th with a firm one-timer from outside the area after the home side lost possession because of a poor pass across the field by Camavinga.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola summed up the odd nature of the game perfectly.
“When we were better they score. When they were better we score,”he said.
“Tight, tight game. The Bernabeu in the semi-final, sometimes we had good moments and sometimes it was difficult with the quality they have on the ball. Final next Wednesday at home with our people.
“We started really well in second half as well and then after they got the game we could not take it. They play a lot of passes on the left and they are really good there but then we score a fantastic goal through Kevin [De Bruyne] and had good moments and then at the end they had a few good chances.
“They are so demanding, with the experience and quality. We are travelling to Manchester and we will see what we can do better.
“When you play this kind of game it is like a play-off, so hopefully we can learn, defend better and attack better.”
Halaand was well controlled by Madrid.
“The pockets and distances between the central defender and full-backs was occupied,”said Guardiola. It was not easy for Erling. He moved well and had his chances.”
Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois revealed the hosts’approach to the goal scoring machine.
“If you want to defend against Haaland, you don’t give him the space to run. We tried to avoid that. We played well. As a consequence they shot more from distance. It pushed us deeper,”said Courtois.
“A good draw and everything to play for next week. It will be like a final. We’re quite good at winning finals. Hopefully we can mentalise it like that.
“City are a team who play with possession. With Haaland they play more direct. Sometimes in the Premier League Ederson shoots [kicks] really deep. We dropped down to not give them space.
“Sometimes we didn’t control our game. They pressed well and you don’t want to take too many risks at the back.”